Dylan Tombides Foundation - DT38
West Ham United are proud to launch the DT38 Foundation in memory of Academy starlet Dylan Tombides.
Dylan, whose prodigious talents saw him sign for West Ham in 2008, lost his brave three-year battle with testicular cancer in April 2014, at the age of just 20.
A hugely popular figure among his team-mates, coaches, backroom staff, supporters and opponents alike, the Australia U22 international was loved and respected throughout the football community for his talent, his smile and his spirit.
Dylan’s considerable legacy is now to be channelled through DT38, a new Foundation which is setting out to provide testicular cancer support and awareness through education and opportunity. DT38 becomes the Club’s second official charity for the 2014/15 campaign, alongside the West Ham United Moore Family Foundation.
Vice-Chairman Karren Brady paid tribute to the Tombides family and said the Club were honoured to be associated with the newly-launched Foundation.
“Dylan was a very special young man who had a profound effect on those around him at the Club,” the Vice-Chairman explained. “His fortitude in the face of the illness that ultimately took his life was amazing and we’re humbled to be working with DT38 in this way.
“This first year for the Foundation is a crucial one and so hopefully the Club’s profile will give it the kick-start it needs. It’s astonishing what the Tombides family have achieved in so little time and I’m sure the fans, as they always do, will get right behind what is a truly worthy cause.”
With the overall goal of changing the way in which testicular cancer is diagnosed, DT38 is starting out with the following four primary objectives:
- To fundraise for chosen charities that deliver services linked to DT38 Foundation’s overall vision.
- To drive the awareness campaign for the prevention of testicular cancer
- To focus on the education of youngsters through sports and school communities
- To provide opportunities linked to 38 fun and accessible activities within football and the West Ham community
Dylan’s mother, Tracy, together with the whole Tombides family have worked tirelessly to get the Foundation up and running, working hand in hand with West Ham United.
She said: “I’d like to pay a heartfelt thanks to all those at West Ham and the Club’s Foundation who have offered their time and support to help make this a reality. Dylan will forever be at the forefront of our thoughts and so we were determined to honour his memory in a positive, proactive fashion. We really believe that DT38 will save lives.
“It breaks our heart to think that this could have been prevented. Had we known about testicular cancer we would have insisted on an ultrasound when we went to the GP. Dylan was robbed of a future that he dreamed of as a young boy. It robbed Taylor of a brother and it robbed my husband and I of watching our beautiful son grow and fulfil his dreams. Please do not let this happen to your son, brother, friend or father.
“The fans have been absolutely amazing with us until now and I ask that they continue to show that same generosity of spirit on Saturday and in the coming weeks and months as we seek to establish DT38. We will always be grateful for your kindness and goodwill.”
Manager Sam Allardyce, who handed Dylan his precious senior debut in September 2012, admits it was heart-breaking to watch the young Aussie recover and then suffer relapse after relapse. He hopes, however, that Dylan’s courage and determination to play the game he so loved will serve as an inspiration to young footballers of the future.
“This is very, very important to everyone here and must continue to go on,” he insisted. “From Dylan's family's point of view, it's important to see that Dylan’s memory will never be forgotten here at West Ham.
“You couldn't have fought any harder than Dylan and his family. The hard thing to take, when Dylan finally lost the fight, was the amount of times we saw him come back from illness to a strapping young footballer again and it looked like it was all going in the right direction and then again and again it came back.
“It was the bravery of the lad that impressed me the most, he was fighting back to come and play football more than anything else. So he should be an inspiration to young players who played with him, or who were younger than him, to make a career for themselves in the game.”
The Hammers and Crystal Palace are set to warm-up in bespoke DT38 T-shirts and there is to be a minute’s applause in the game’s 38th minute, as a mark of respect to the shirt that Dylan wore and has since been retired in his honour. Additionally, supporters should keep their eyes peeled for a bucket collection prior to kick-off and flyers telling Dylan’s courageous story are also to be distributed outside the Boleyn Ground.
For further information, or to make a donation, visit www.dt38.co.uk or follow @DylanTombides on Twitter.